Composer Pham Duy's Impressions of --

Supreme Master Ching Hai's Poetry

(Originally in Aulacese)

     Pham Duy is one of the most well-known composers in Au Lac's world of music. As a special guest at the "Evening of Music and Poetry – Traces of Previous Lives and Love Songs," he expressed his viewpoint concerning Supreme Master Ching Hai's poetry. In addition, he introduced two of his newly written songs, using lyrics from Supreme Master Ching Hai's poems – "A Lonesome Night" and "Existence and Nothingness." After the concert, Pham Duy was also interviewed by Vietnam Performing Arts Radio regarding his two newly

composed songs. Following is his introduction of Supreme Master Ching Hai's poetry and the two songs at the concert "Evening of Music and Poetry."

     Since the beginning of modern music about half a century ago, Aulacese people have held many different kinds of concerts, both in Au Lac and abroad. First, there were concerts for love songs where we can praise the sentimental, passionate and sensual aspects of love. Then, there were concerts for heroic music in which we can express our patriotism for our homeland and fellow citizens. If there were ever a solemn concert about our country's history, then there would also be a concert with humorous music. Evidently, we know how to use music to nourish humankind through the depiction of emotions like happiness, anger, love and hatred.

     However, up to now, we've rarely had the kind of concert with the main theme being spiritual, just like the one we had today. As a person who often composes spiritual music, as well as love songs and popular music, I sincerely thank the organizers for inviting me to participate in this concert and to say a few words about the journey of those who have guided us in the search for the land of eternity...

     Today, I am glad to enter the world of Supreme Master Ching Hai's poetry. I'm not going to repeat what my friend Tran Van An already highlighted. Supreme Master Ching Hai's poetry represents a mixture between worldly love and the purity of spiritual practice. For me, Her poetry is not just a breaking of preconceived ideas of a spiritual practitioner; it's also the poetry of the spiritual journey, the journey of human life on the river of the spiritual path. The belonging is an open heart, the destiny is the realization of Self and inner peace. It is turning away with no binding; it is turning back, still very carefree. It is the kind of poem that is called "re-listening to our life."

     I believe that Supreme Master Ching Hai's poems are very worldly and yet also very spiritual, such as "I Love You," "Like the Clouds High Above," "Passing by Your House," "The Man Who Recreated Eden," et cetera. My colleagues, composers like Le Dinh, Nhat Ngan, and Phuong Vu have carefully set these to music, and these poems in the form of music will be presented to you through the magnificent voices of Khanh Ly, Mai Huong, Le Thu, Duy Khanh, and so on.

     For myself, I've chosen one of Supreme Master Ching Hai's traditional spiritual poems from "Traces of Previous Lives," called "A Lonesome Night" to compose music:

“Lonely like I’ve never been so lonely...
Sad like I’ve never been so sad...
Like a bird looking for a cozy nest,
Lost in the midst of a vast firmament!”

     We Aulacese people who have been away from our homeland for over twenty years are the "birds" who have twice been "lost in the midst of a vast firmament" because not only are we lonely in our fate as human beings, but we are also very lonely beings – "strangers in a foreign land." Supreme Master Ching Hai has extended Her open arms, and I'm really not surprised at all to learn that She has disciples all over the world. Indeed, in this assembly such as tonight, in this musical gathering, although She has not preached anything, She is already with us on the journey back to our youth, back to the land of legends as mentioned in the poems.

     You have heard Kieu Loan reciting this poem in the beautiful traditional style. Now, you are going to hear Duy Quang’s musical interpretation of this poem.

     Modern music has the advantage over traditional poem recital in the sense that modern musical melody is more flexible than the fixed form of poetry recital. It can transform the atmosphere from "lost in the midst of a vast firmament" to "hands extending, longer than the night" much easier. Ladies and gentlemen, on this last day of the year, and in the warm atmosphere of this "Evening of Spiritual Music Performance," I would like to invite you to listen to the song "A Lonesome Night," poem written by Supreme Master Ching Hai, music by Pham Duy, and performed by Duy Quang.

Ladies and gentlemen: Duy Quang!...

     I used to think that a human life is an endless journey, but with every departure there is a return. With Supreme Master Ching Hai, Nirvana is not a place of refuge. As with Luu and Nguyen, paradise cannot make them forget their way home; therefore:
“One step forward is to arrive at the Origin,
One inch back is to return to the suffering world!”

     For me, Supreme Master Ching Hai is always "a turning away with no binding," and always "a turning back, still very carefree.". With the ideal of harmonizing society and the individual, I have written music for the poem "Existence and Nothingness" by Supreme Master Ching Hai.
Ladies and gentlemen, once again, Duy Quang!...

An Interview between Vietnam Performing Arts Radio and Composer Pham Duy    
Composer Pham Duy's Impressions of Supreme Master Ching Hai's Poetry   

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